Posted Jun 1 2011 8:13AM
MIAMI -- Give Jason Terry credit, his belief in himself and the rest of the Dallas Mavericks' bench remains sky high, even after they pulled a disappearing act in the biggest game of the season.
A unit that had powered the Mavericks to victories in each round of these playoffs before now came up empty in Game 1 of The Finals, a 92-84 Miami Heat win Tuesday night at AmericanAirlines Arena.
Terry, the ringleader of the bench brigade and the man that drained a record-tying nine 3-pointers in an elimination game of the two-time defending champion Los Angeles Lakers a few weeks ago, didn't score a point in the second half here Tuesday night.
Yet in his mind, the Heat gave them exactly what they wanted. They just didn't make the shots.
"We had some good looks, some wide open 3-pointers and layups at the basket that we missed," Terry said. "Defensively, you hold them to 92 points, but offensively it was a disaster for us ... but I guarantee you, if we get those same opportunities in Game 2, we're going to take advantage of them. We're very encouraged right now knowing that that if we continue to get those same opportunities we're going to have some success."
The Mavericks' bench had been averaging 35 points per game in these playoffs. They managed just 17 in Game 1 against a stifling defensive effort from the Heat. Terry scored all 12 of his points before halftime, before he saw a steady diet of LeBron James in his face on the defensive end.
The Mavericks scored just 40 points total in the second half, work Terry, J.J. Barea and Peja Stojakovic have done by their lonesome in games the past six weeks.
But that trio combined for a hideous 4-for-21 shooting effort from the floor against the Heat, totaling just 14 points.
"We'll play better," Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said. "I'm very certain of that. Again, we had some opportunities that -- shots we normally make, they didn't go down. And so that was tough. But look, it's a long series. And we'll adjust to the things we need to do to get ourselves in a better position."
It can only get better compared to what went on in Game 1. Stojakovic went scoreless and he missed his three shots, all of which were from 3-point land. His offensive woes were punctuated by an even tougher night on the defensive end, where he was targeted repeatedly by the Heat while he was on the floor.
Barea's night wasn't much better. He shot just 1-for-8, missing layups that he made with ease over the likes of the Trail Blazers, Lakers and Thunder before this series. He also had two shots blocked at the rim, something else the Mavericks' pace-changer hasn't had to deal with much of the past six weeks.
"I actually thought coming in that our bench was going to be a key for us," Mavericks star Dirk Nowitzki said. "They did a good job there on Jet. I think Jet did a good job in the first half. Got to some areas to knock down some shots and second half they didn't really let him get an open look. LeBron was on him some in the fourth quarter, to go big on him, and I guess bother his shot.
"And J.J.'s got to take his time when he gets in there. Obviously they are collapsing and trying to block his shot. I thought he was rushing some of his shots in the paint. And we've just got to relax, if it's not there, swing the ball to the weak side, because the shot is going to be there. We've just got to finish."
Terry fancies himself Mr. Fourth Quarter. He's even got a video that they play at the start of the fourth quarter at Mavericks' home games.
Not Tuesday night, though. Terry didn't deliver and neither did the bench crew, losing the scoring battle 27-17. That 10-point bench scoring edge turned out to be the difference in the game.
"This team is mentally tough," Terry said. "We know to beat Miami, we're going to have to bring it."
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